Collaborative Sensing and Mapping for IVA Robots
Award last edited on: 1/23/2023

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Walter Harper

Company Information

Metis Technology Solutions Inc

2309 Renard Place Se Unit 200
Albuquerque, NM 87106
   (505) 299-1509
Location: Single
Congr. District: 01
County: Bernalillo

Phase I

Contract Number: 80NSSC21C0288
Start Date: 5/6/2021    Completed: 11/19/2021
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Metis Technology Solutions proposes a collaborative sensing and environmental modeling approach for IVA robots such as Astrobee and Robonaut 2. IVA robots are intended to autonomously manage habitats and spacecraft, such as Gateway. To do this effectively, IVA robots must be able to collect, fuse, and share information with other IVA robots, as any human team would do to accomplish a task. Metis proposes an online collaborative process or a service occurring on the spacecraft, where any IVA robot, both free flyer and humanoid robots, can contribute new data to a central server for data fusion. The fused data can then be modeled, analyzed, and shared with the other IVA robots through the same central server, thus allowing IVA robots to manage and navigate independently, and as part of a team. Metis proposes to do this by first enabling Collaborative SLAM for Astrobee, an on-line vision-based mapping process that not only establishes the proposed architecture, but also augments Astrobee with the ability to update SLAM maps without the need for ground station involvement. In addition, fusion and co-registration of other IVA robot sensor data (i.e. CO2 data, acoustics data) with SLAM maps will be investigated as they are key to spacecraft maintenance tasks. The technology developed not only solves an operational limitation for Astrobee, but also fills technical gaps identified by the proposed Game Changing Development (GCD) Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) project. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): The system can be directly utilized by Astrobee to overcome an operational limitation and demonstrate collaborative sensing and modeling using multiple Astrobee robots or a combination of Astrobee robots and Robonaut 2. It can be applied to any autonomous system, with one or multiple agents, for exploration and management of an environment such as teams of ground-based robots managing an area on the moon or mars. Teams of non-autonomous systems also benefit where data from human operated vehicles with sensor payloads are gathered and utilized. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): The proposed system can be applied to any autonomous system, with one or multiple agents, for exploration and management of an environment. Collaborative sensing and mapping can be utilized by mobile agents (human operated or autonomous) for exploring and managing environments where environmental information is captured for the first time and needs rapid distribution. Duration: 6

Phase II

Contract Number: 80NSSC22CA086
Start Date: 5/5/2022    Completed: 5/4/2024
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
Metis Technology Solutions proposes to further mature its online, bi-directional, and robust collaborative SLAM and sensor co-registration technology known as Astrobee Localization and Collaborative Multi-layered Mapping (A-LCMM). The technology allows any Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) robot to collect data about its surrounding environment and share it with other robots via a central server to perform localization and mapping tasks. Sensors equipped to each IVA robot can be co-registered and fused with a collaboratively generated physical map of an environment which is stored on a central server. This fused multi-layered map of the environment consists of layers in which individual sensor data is registered with the physical map of the environment. The system is sensor and camera agnostic, meaning that any sensor and camera can be ingested by the system. This system not only eliminates the need for a ground team to manually update Astrobee maps, but also enables autonomous state assessment operations in space habitats which fills technical gaps identified in the Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) project. Developed hardware prototypes are to be used for validation in real-world environments by integrating the hardware and the software components of the system together. Beyond NASA, applications outside of Astrobee are not only feasible, but desirable. Improvements to the current state-of-the-art for collaborative SLAM not only impact Astrobee, but any system that uses multiple robots or SLAM in general. With the recent emergence of commercial space stations, autonomous cars, augmented reality (AR), and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), there are many opportunities in which the technology can penetrate the market and make a ground breaking difference in the world of robot autonomy for years to come. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Current IVA robot programs such as Astrobee have the potential to directly benefit from this technology. IVA robots must be able to perform autonomous state assessment activities such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and leak identification which future orbiting facilities such as Lunar Gateway will require. The developed technology will allow for Astrobee to advance its localization and mapping capabilities as well as provide real-time sensor data of the environment from multiple robots simultaneously. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Commercial space habitats like Axiom Station would directly benefit from this technology. IVA robots will play a critical role in automating tasks onboard commercial space habitats. With the ability to perform autonomous state assessment, surveillance, and reconnaissance of a space habitat, it significantly reduces the required human and financial resources required to maintain a space station. Duration: 24